For a bird of prey, roadsides are attractive places. Grassy verges provide habitat for prey items such as mice, insects and reptiles, and road killed wildlife presents an easy and tempting meal. Unfortunately, roads are also crowded and dangerous environments. Raptors risk being struck by vehicles, becoming entangled in roadside fences or colliding with electrical infrastructure. One kestrel brought to us with a broken wing had been struck by a car and carried in the grill for approximately 20 kilometres! Fortunately, this bird was successfully rehabilitated. Roadsides and vehicles are not the only dangers, however. We have received birds which have been shot, attacked by cats, collided with glass windows or have simply been found in starving condition.
While raptor rehabilitation can be extremely rewarding, especially when a bird that would have otherwise died is released fit and well back into its own territory, it can also be heart breaking at times. The reality is that many of the severe injuries suffered by birds of prey cannot be satisfactorily healed and humane euthanasia is frequently the kindest option.
The value of rehabilitation has been a subject of hot debate in recent times. For the injured birds that are successfully released, and the children and adults who experience our educational programs, we feel that what we do is of value and has merit. In terms of conservation, rehabilitating injured raptors may help. Certainly doing nothing at all does not!